Right handed people should learn to play guitar left handed
Article for parents whose children have expressed interest in learning to play guitar. This is vital information for parents to consider before buying your child their first guitar and investing in lessons. If you want to support your child's musical development and skills you need to read this article before you make your decisions.
By: Gaskell Guitars
The following article does not apply to classical guitar playing which is in a separate league of it's own and employs different principles to all other genres of guitar playing. This article is about learning to play guitar in any of the following styles: Blues, Jazz, Country, R&B, Rock, Pop, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal.
Although the guitar has been around since the beginning of the 20th Century, it wasn't until the late 1960's that guitar playing reached whole new levels of skill and accomplishment.
Key to this was the evolution of the electric guitar.
Up until the 1960's what "playing the guitar” meant was basically "strumming chords.” Lead playing (playing scales) was very much still in it's infancy. The guitar was a "strumming instrument.” 20th Century dictionaries defined the guitar as an "instrument played by strumming.”
In the early days of electric guitar (1920's and 1930's), electric guitars were really just glorified miked up acoustic guitars. They were played and treated as if they were acoustic guitars. It would be much later, in the 1950s, that a new thing would happen: the invention of the solid-body guitar.
During this pre-1960s primitive era, the guitar was most definitely a right handed instrument built to be strummed with the right hand and chords fingered with the left hand. The theory was that the "strong” arm of the player (being right handed) would be the one to keep the rhythm hence, the task of strumming was for the right hand. Left hand technique in those days was limited to managing finger-chords and maybe a few barre chords. Even though the approach to playing guitar back then is as outdated as black and white television, there are some aspects, attitudes, of those times that are still with us and need to be seriously re evaluated on a grand scale. What are we talking about?
Firstly, you need to refresh yourself as to what changed in the 1950's and 1960's.
Starting from the 1950s and peaking in the late 1960s, came a new wave of guitarists that took guitar playing to a new level. Some of those key innovaters were Chuck Berry, Alvin Lee, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton, and many more. These innovators tried new things and were able to make the guitar do more than it had ever been required to "do” before. Two major advances were key to this era:
The advent of the solid body guitar. With solid body electric guitars such as the Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul, the electric guitar was no longer a miked up acoustic guitar. You couldn't play one without an amp! New demands were put upon guitar players. And new possibilities!
Advances in amplification were required, quickly invented or further improved in order to cope with the necessary volumes required for larger crowds, and larger concerts and festivals. Advances in amplification opened the door to advances in guitar playing: feedback, sustain, purposefully employed overdrive and distortion. Volume enabled new things to be possible.
From the late 1960's and into the 1970s a very major advance happened: LEAD GUITAR came into it's own. Solos, scales – and not just the tired pentatonic scale overused in Blues music. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Queen, Ted Nugent, all shaped music and gave birth to the "Rock” and "Heavy Metal” scene of the 1980s, when Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Poison, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot, Metallica etc etc etc. came into their own. On the other side of things, Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Stevie Ray Vaughn took Blues Rock to a new level, and added took lead playing and guitar solos to new levels in that genre. The list goes on.
When Eddie Van Halen came on the scene with the song "Eruption” at the end of the 1970's, new techniques such as "finger tapping” came to be. Now people used TWO HANDS on the fret board! The whammy bar became something else. Floyd Rose and Kahler came up with floating tremolo systems that allowed new and more extreme whammy bar techniques without driving the guitar hopelessly out of tune. There were no "dive bombs” before this time!
Where are we going with this?
Today, skilled guitar playing is beyond anything that ever was imagined in the primitive pre-1960's era when guitar was only a "strumming instrument.”
With lead guitar, there is more demand on the players ability to get around the fret board.
It's no longer about strumming chords! It hasn't been for a very long time! You can still be very mediocre and be a "strummer” if you want to, but for those who want to get good at playing guitar there is a change of thinking required.
This is the mentality that needs a total overhaul here: Right handed people are still being taught to play "right handed” guitars. This is AN OBSOLETE, DATED AND DEFUNCT ACTIVITY!
To become a really good guitarist a right handed person needs to learn how to play guitar "left handed.” This means that the right handed person's "strong” hand plays the fretboard. Why would you put your "weak” (left) hand to the hardest task in playing guitar?
Here is an example in reverse: one of the greatest guitarists ever is the incredible Gary Moore. He plays a right handed guitar. But is he right handed? No, he is a left handed person playing a right handed guitar. And how many people can play like he? Reverse this and consider how "good” you could be if you were a right handed person playing a left handed guitar? You could possibly become as good as Gary Moore, or any of the many many Guitar gods who are really left handed people who play right handed guitar.
This is not a coincidence.
Right handed people need to learn to play guitar left handed if they want to take guitar playing to levels beyond "strumming. ” PARENTS TAKE NOTE. This rests with you in the main. If your kid wants to become a "great guitarist”, get them a left handed guitar, if they are right handed and give them a right handed guitar if they are left handed.
Do this and lo and behold: NEW VISTAS OF ACHIEVEMENT IN PLAYING GUITAR ARE POSSIBLE. We live in the 21st Century and guitar playing is nothing like it was in the Stone Age of the pre-1960s.
Gaskell Guitars is a guitar manufacturer in Sydney, Australia that makes only left handed guitars
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